Sunday, July 26, 2009

Narien Teas Offers Hawaii-Grown Tea

Narien Teas Brings Hawaii-Grown Tea To Mainland
(from a press release)

On June 15th, Narien Teas will become the first U.S. mainland tea retailer to offer Hawaii-grown tea. Interest in terroir (the French concept of the innate flavor of wine and other culinary products which originates in its growing region) has sparked the importation of teas from unusual origins such as Guatemala, Georgia and Nepal, but Hawaii-grown tea has yet to reach the American mainland.

Florida-based Narien Teas is introducing Kilinoe (“misty rain”) Green Tea from one of Hawaii’s pioneer tea producers, Big Island Tea. Hawaii’s fertile volcanic soil, wafting mists and unique island weather patterns make it an ideal spot for tea farming. Big Island Tea is a small estate that grows teas organically with a system called “eco-farming.” They irrigate tea plants with a 100,000-gallon pond filled with Asian catfish and koi. The tea plants are grown under a canopy of endemic plant species at 3000-foot elevation. (Shade-grown, high-elevation tea is considered to be far sweeter and more nutrient-rich
than other teas.)

Tealeaves are hand-harvested, then hand-rolled and hand-fired (pan-roasted) in a traditional Chinese fashion for a nuanced, complex flavor profile. Big Island’s owner, Eliah Halpenny, has been growing and processing tea for seven years to yield her first harvest this spring. Spring harvest teas are generally the most premium and desirable; this particular tea is limited to five to ten pounds of annual production.

Narien Teas will offer a limited quantity of spring-harvest Kilinoe Tea starting at $9 for five grams (about 25¢ per cup) through their website. For most American tea aficionados, Narien Teas’ introduction of Kilinoe Green will be the first opportunity to taste Hawaii-grown tea.

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